Betting UK-Arkansas, Indiana-Nebraska, Plus Other Tuesday Tilts
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Today, I’ll take a look at the following matchups that span the SoCon, Big East, Big Ten, and SEC.
- UNCG at Wofford +3
- Creighton at Butler -6
- Indiana at Nebraska -3
- Kentucky at Arkansas -5.5
Follow me on twitter @jorcubsdan for in-game analysis, injury updates, and second half predictions.
UNC Greensboro @ Wofford (+3)
7 p.m. ET
Two SoCon tournament title contenders square off in Spartanburg in what has turned into a bit of a rivalry since hot-blooded UNCG head coach Wes Miller and Wofford head coach Mike Young exchanged words two seasons ago.
UNCG won the first meeting by shutting down Fletcher Magee and the prolific Wofford three point attack in the second half. Wofford amassed a 14-point halftime lead, but UNCG held the Terriers scoreless for the first 7 minutes of the second half en route to a 4-point home victory. After scoring 21 in the first half, Magee was bageled over the final 20 minutes.
As I mentioned, the heart and soul of Wofford’s offense is its prolific and efficient three point attack, spearheaded by Magee. Wofford ranks 11th nationally in three point percentage at 40.8%, while shooting the triple at the 29th highest rate in the country. Magee meanwhile is doing this:
After a big weekend, Fletcher Magee is leading the country in three-pointers made again.
Oh, and he’s also ahead of Steph Curry’s record breaking season again:
— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) February 19, 2018
So what adjustments did Miller make in the second half to shut down Magee and subsequently the entire Wofford offense? He switched long armed 6’6 Marvin Smith onto Magee, who was really bothered by Smith’s length. Magee scores 1.39 points per possession (ppp) as a spot shooter, which grades out in the in 98th percentile nationally. Wofford, as a team, actually grades out in the 99th percentile in that category, per Synergy. If you can’t make the Terriers put the ball on the floor, they will torch you.
That said, Young is an excellent coach, who varies his offensive sets for Magee off of a million pindown actions, and Cam Jackson is one of the best pindown screen setters in the country. Young has tweaked his offense this year to exploit Jackson’s matchup in the post after setting that initial pindown screen. However, UNCG has a solid straight-up post defender in Jordy Kuiper, in addition to one of the country’s best weak side shot blockers in James Dickey (10th nationally in block rate). That adds up to UNCG owning the country’s 29th lowest FG% at the rim, per hoop-math.com.
With Smith capable of chasing Magee off the line on Wofford’s screen action, and the Terriers lacking additional wing scorers, UNCG’s defense should once again contain the three point barrage of Wofford. The good news for Wofford is it’s ability to handle the press this season. That is vital against UNCG’s extended 1-2-2 zone press.
As for the UNCG offense, they exploited a Wofford defense with a lot of different holes and a lack of overall athleticism. UNCG runs a heavy screening offense with ball screen motion. Franc Alonso had a field day running off those screens, going 6-10 from 3. Oddly, Young didn’t switch Magee off of Alonso until it was too late, as Magee was visibly gassed after chasing the sharp shooter around all night. I expect to see Derrick Brooks on Alonso for most of the game this evening, which should be more effective in the end.
Situationally, the first game was a bit bizarre. Not only was it opening night of SoCon play, but both teams also had a week and a half off prior to the contest. Not to mention, Wofford’s prior game was its historic win at UNC, which subsequently sparked national media coverage. I’m not suggesting Mike Young didn’t have his team ready for a conference contender, but the Terriers were mentally in uncharted space. I will also note that Wofford has played well at home in its new gym this year, with just two losses against South Carolina on opening night and ETSU.
Both coaches have a hyper awareness of the opposing team’s resident sharp shooter and are willing to tweak their defense to adjust to the screening action that sets each shooter free. As a result, I expect another low 60s possession game, but with more misses from 3.
PICK: Under 136.5
Creighton @ Butler (-6)
7 p.m. ET
Creighton heads to Hinkle Fieldhouse after blowing a substantial lead at home to Marquette in a game they needed. To make matters worse, the Golden Eagles rallied after losing their best player in Markus Howard in the first half.
I’ve previously discussed the impact the Martin Krampelj injury had on Creighton’s defense, but after surrendering 1.32 ppp to Marquette, it’s worth revisiting the numbers in-depth. In only Big East play, Creighton allowed .85 ppp with Krampelj on the floor and 1.15 PP without him, which is a staggering disparity. Even more poignant is how important Krampelj was in Creighton’s win over Butler in Omaha. He didn’t miss a shot from the floor and snagged 14 rebounds, while holding Tyler Wideman to only 6 points and 2 rebounds. Krampelj’s replacement, Toby Hegner, simply isn’t the same type of player in terms of skill and athleticism.
With that being said, Khyri Thomas has always given Butler star Kelan Martin fits. While Thomas gives up 4 inches and 10-15 pounds to Martin, his quick feet and hands have frustrated the Butler forward into 9.3 ppg on 13-38 shooting in the past three meetings, all Creighton wins. With Kamar Baldwin focused on Marcus Foster, Thomas has also been an efficient offensive monster in those three games.
Butler laid an egg against Seton Hall on Senior Day last year, but with Creighton’s struggles defensively post-Krampelj, the Bulldogs should outscore the Bluejays in a shootout.
PICK: Over 157
Indiana at Nebraska (-3)
9 p.m. ET
Nebraska has become increasingly reliant on creating mismatches via pick-and-roll since Tim Miles moved to a smaller lineup. That is going to be difficult against an Indiana pack-line defense that has excelled in the pick-and-roll, especially since Archie Miller finally installed Devonte Green as the full time point guard over Josh Newkirk. The streaky perimeter shooting of James Palmer, Anton Gill, and Glynn Watson will be put to the test against the Hoosiers tonight. However, Palmer and Isaiah Roby can exploit their matchups off the dribble at the 3 and 4. As a result, if the Huskers are getting calls at home, they could live at the line in this one.
Offensively, Archie Miller models his teams exactly like Roy Williams’ UNC teams. They rely on the “secondary break” to push the ball up the floor, taking advantage of unset defenses before transitioning into a motion offense. The Huskers have been a solid transition defense all year, and forcing IU to execute routinely in the halfcourt is key. The Hoosiers are coming off an offensive explosion in which they went 14-24 from deep against a sagging Iowa defense. They won’t have that same advantage against Nebraska, which owns the league’s most aggressive 3PT defense. Additionally, Roby and Isaac Copeland both have the ability to guard Juwan Morgan when he faces the basket.
PICK: Under 139
Kentucky at Arkansas (-5.5)
9 p.m. ET
The Hogs have several things going for them tonight. First, they’re currently playing the best basketball in the SEC, having won four straight, all by double-digits. Second, as usual, they’ve played great at Bud Walton, having only lost to LSU in bizarre blowout fashion. Third, they have a quick backcourt with Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford, which has given Kentucky issues all year. Fourth, Daniel Gafford has been playing out of his mind in the paint on both ends of the floor during their current winning streak.
All that said, pressing UK is high risk/high reward. Tennessee did it successfully twice, but it backfired in a major way during the second half for WVU in Morgantown. Kentucky also enjoys a major advantage on the offensive glass, but Mike Anderson flipped the script Saturday against Texas A&M, a team which they struggled to limit putbacks against in their first meeting. During the tenures of Macon and Barford, UK has dominated the Hogs, including over the last four years with seniors Anton Beard and Trey Thompson. I fully expect Arkansas to be ready to go for their last chance to beat the overall class of the SEC in Fayetteville.
PICK: Arkansas -5.5
Top photo: Wofford Terriers Head Coach Mike Young
Photo via Jason Getz – USA Today Sports